All and One

Emily FanJune 21, 2021Connection and Isolation

The term “lonely” was adapted from the word “alone,” which had originated from the two words “all and one” in Middle English. I have two different interpretations of this combination: the first is that the “one” has been excluded from “all,” and the other is that we are “all one.”

Many of us may have experienced moments in life when we felt disconnected from our surroundings, the people. Moments when we may have felt extremely lost, confused, or empty, but there was no shoulder for us to lean on – when we were crying without being seen. I have sensed that feeling several times, especially when I moved to a new country and started at a new school. The reason that feeling had approached me was that I felt different, and I didn’t fit in. However, with a high level of tolerance, kindness and respectfulness, my community has supported me and many of the “ones” who were lost to find their place in the community.

My school community highly emphasizes diversity, which I think is the starting point for an individual to be accepted and meet people that share the same background, interest, or characteristic. We have a wide range of clubs and activities on offer, such as the robotics and knitting clubs, bands, and sports teams. I chose to enroll myself in debating, which has significantly supported me and helped me to settle and bond with the rest of the community. From this experience, I did not just meet people who also like tracing the origin and digging deep into the different meanings of words, but also, when I represented my school in debate tournaments, I strongly perceived that I was a part of the community. I developed a sense of belonging because I found a place within the community where people understood me and where I could contribute. The key role that diversity plays in this process is to help every isolated “one” find their spot in “all.”

Last year during the COVID lockdown, I received a phone call from a representative of my local council, who speaks my mother tongue, to check in on my family’s status and keep us updated with the new policies. As a family, we were deeply touched by the inclusiveness that our community demonstrated during an immensely difficult time when both social and mental isolation were dominating our lives.

Being alone (seeking solitude) and feeling lonely are two distinct concepts. In my opinion, a community needs to offer places for all individuals to settle and allow them to build connections and contribute to the community.

Emily Fan is a year 11 student studying at Carey Baptist Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia. She is very passionate about debating and has been enrolled in both English and Chinese debating for several years. Emily is also interested in poetry and dancing (k-pop, street jazz, and breaking). She is keen to participate and contribute to KidSpirit, as she is very open to different ideas and enjoys motivating others to join the conversation.